When I find myself in a creative rut it always helps tidying and reorganizing my studio workspace. For some reason my creativity is very much affected by the interior and the feeling of a room. When I see my workspace with fresh eyes it’s like an instant mindset shift and a stream of new ideas are coming to me.
If you find yourself in a creative rut, feeling empty and uninspired don’t wait for something inside of you to change so you can create again. What feels like an inner block can often be fixed with physical changes. By moving your body and changing your environment you can pull yourself out of creative frustration and into creative stimulation and inspiration.
It is critical to embrace these phases of low productivity. Stop believing it’s a weakness and learn how to leverage your creative ups and downs. Nothing is wrong with you just because you have a creative block and you are certainly not broken because you are in a rut.
Instead of waisting valuable time blaming yourself for not being creative enough, start spending your time on physical changes and practical activities.
Move your body, go for a long walk, visit a museum, paint a wall, throw out all clutter in your studio, jump or dance like no one is watching. Take back your creative power by moving, doing and taking action.
“I often think of the creative lows as my brewing days…,I can feel the restless heartbeat of the next idea. Often I’m so eager to get going… but it’s a process, a cycle, and it never leaves us, just goes around for another turn”.
As a natural light photographer living in a Scandinavian country, capturing bright and airy photos can sometimes be a huge challenge!
During fall and winter the light is VERY limited and many of my indoor photos come out of the camera looking like the “before” photo you see above.
Yep, it´s called REAL life!
As a photographer working with just the available light, the conditions are not always perfect enough to achieve beautiful images straight out of camera.
Here’s the good news. With the right skills, you can create stunning images that wow your clients, blog readers and Instagram followers.
And by knowing exactly HOW you can do it quicker and easier!
In my upcoming photography courseI show you my personal workflowfor creating both light and airy photos as well as the more dark and moody styled photos.
I simply LOVE editing photos. It´s my meditation.
And it´s such a HUGE part of my creative style.
I dare say that image editing is almost 50% of the process to achieving a signature style.
Here´s What You Need To IMPROVE Your Photo Editing Skills:
#1. Photo Editing Software
You need a photo editing software program like Lightroom or Photoshop. I actually recommend subscribing for a monthly membership for both programs via Adobe CC. I use Lightroom for ALL my basic editing – because it´s super efficient and fast. And I use Photoshop for fine-tuning and giving my photos that editorial look.
#2. Shoot in RAW mode
THIS is KEY! Jpeg files are great for everyday photos of family and friends, but to achieve a professional looking imagery you must turn to RAW files. Raw files are simply unfinished photos. When you take a photo with your camera set to shoot RAW files, you´ll have to finish that photo inside Lightroom or Photoshop. This gives you enormous creative power – which is fantastic when you shoot in low light conditions, which I often do.
#3. Focus On The Basic
Be careful not to rely too much on presets and actions. With a basic understanding of editing you can easily create beautiful images inside Lightroom or Photoshop. AND you´ll save a bunch of money buying expensive presets. You can get a long way with just mastering the curve tool and the white balance.
#4. Don’t Over Edit Your Photos
When you first get into editing it can be a real challenge finding the balance between over-doing it and not doing enough. I really struggled with this myself when I started out. At first I didn´t do enough, and then I had a loooong phase of over-processing my photos – especially my portraits! It was all porcelain doll skin and shiny, non-human eyes! Ohh, yes! But hey, it´s a learning curve, right and while learning you are allowed to make mistakes.
The best tip to achieve that balance is to find a photo you like – a photo that has the editing style you like. (look at Pinterest or Instagram). Then use that photo as your reference guide while you practice your editing skills. Have it open in a window and look at it to see if you can match the look. You´ll learn a lot from doing this.
#5. Give It Time
Whilst editing can be a bit overwhelming, especially if it’s the first time you’re getting into post-processing, with patience and practice, you’ll be creating beautiful images in a matter of minutes. Give it time and don’t rush this process. Make it fun and enjoyable. Put on your favourite music and get to work. Experiment and don´ be afraid to make mistakes. Even after 10 years as a pro, I still manage to create photos that ends up in the trash can…it´s okay…it´s normal. You don´t need to get it perfect every time! It´s called being creative.
If you need help with your editing skills or you are not aware of how to use post-processing software to create stunning photographs, you´ll get ALL the training you need in The Lifestyle Photography Workshop.
IMPROVE YOUR EDITING SKILLS WITH:
My Lightroom course module.
My Photoshop course module – including professional retouching video tutorials.
Workflow steps on how to achieve the most popular editing styles.
Lifetime access so you can practice anytime, anywhere.
My photography workshop contains over 100+ lessons and lifetime access: the lessons are all the pieces you need to complete the puzzle to grow as a photographer and to take your photography to the next level.
I want to empower YOU to succeed and make your dream about capturing stunning photos come true.
Every Summer, I do a half-year LIFE check-up. I investigate every corner of my life to make sure I´m on the right track, moving in a direction that brings me happiness.
I love doing my half-year check-up! I feel like it´s a second chance to make things right. I re-evaluate my decisions, my goals and all my dreams that I planned back in the beginning of the year. I re-consider my business plan. I re-connect with my passion, my WHY and my life purpose.
Taking time to checkin with ourselves is crucial because we sometimes lose sight of what´s most important to us doing the daily grind. We get so caught up in daily chores and to-do´s that it so darn easy to lose sight of what matters most.
I ask myself; are you where you want to be now? And are you on track to be where you want to be at the end of this year?
Rarely, will our dream life magically appear. If you genuinely want to live your dream life, you got to get out of your comfort zone and ask yourself some hard questions. You got to get comfortable with the uncomfortable questions, and you got to challenge yourself to answer truthfully.
Not always easy…but very effective!
Without being MINDFUL about your direction in life, chances are someone else will take over your agenda. And without the clarity and purpose from choosing your steps mindfully, you´ll never truly experience and express your highest potential.
You owe it to yourself to live a life that is extraordinary to you. A life that makes you happy and fulfilled.
Doing a half-year review is an act of self-love. It´s NOT an excuse to beat yourself up for not reaching your New Years´ resolutions.
I want you to do this exercise with kindness. Being hard on yourself NEVER works – it only results in lack of motivation, depression and low self-esteem.
At the end of the day, your personal goals should be serving you. They are YOUR goals, and you get to set them so that where you end up is exactly where you want to be.
So as you enter the second half of the year, I want you to set time aside – maybe a few hours, perhaps a full day or a weekend and do a half-year check-up.
Use this time to reflect back on the first six months of the year and make adjustments to your goals for the rest of the year.
I created the following questions to help you be fully mindful of the way you live and to look at your life with open eyes. These questions are asked with love, and the intention is to guide you to stay on track with your life purpose.
Are you ready?
Okay, here we go…
Half-Year Check-Up: 10 Questions You Should Ask Yourself To Make Sure You Are On Track
1. WHAT do you need to let go of?
There´s a big difference between giving up and letting go. Letting go means freeing yourself from something that is no longer serving you. It involves removing toxic people and negative belief systems from your life so you can make space for wellbeing and happiness. Giving up reduces your life. Letting go expands it. Giving up is self-defeat. Letting go is self-care. What do you need to let go of, so you can make space for the things that really matter?
2. WHO do you need to let go of?
Is there someone in your life that is blocking your happiness and growth? Perhaps a person that is close to you? Or maybe someone you interact with online? A person that is always negative, putting you down, pointing out your weakness and accusing you of not being good enough? Is it time to let go of that person?
Remind yourself that you don´t need anyone´s permission or approval to live your life the way that feels right. No one has the authority to tell you who to be or how to live.
3. What do you need more of in your life?
Focus on the exciting feelings, relationships, events and habits that will improve your life. What makes you feel full of joy? What makes you feel completely at peace? What makes you feel confident and happy with yourself? How can you get more of that in your life?
4. What´s your biggest struggle and how can you deal with it?
Everyone has a difficult time coping. So if you feel like life is a struggle you are not alone. Life is a rollercoaster, and sometimes we all fall apart. During these times, we aren´t always easy to be around. No one is easy to be around 100% of the time. It´s called being human. So when that happens, remind yourself that it´s okay, to not be okay. You are not Superman or Superwomen.
Acknowledge that you struggle and turn your attention and focus to the things in your life you are grateful for. What in your life do you truly appreciate? What and who are you sincerely thankful for?
And remember, you are better today because you have learnt from your setbacks. You are stronger today because of the pain you overcame. You can love today because you understand that nobody is perfect and everyone is doing the best they can with the resources they have. You can overcome your struggles because you are not what happens to you, you choose to be who you are.
5. What areas of your life do you need to simplify?
I can never say this enough; simplify the heck out of your life, and you´ll be a much happier person! Think about it; where in your life do you need less drama and less pressure? The best way to quiet your mind is to simplify your life. When your mind is quiet, you can work on the big things. Focus on things that really matter, like your goals, health, giving back, your passions, hobbies, and quality relationships with your loved ones. To simplify, ask yourself what in your life you can delete, delegate, remove, say no to or take immediate action on. Remember, it´ s always better to keep things simple and flexible rather than chase perfection.
6. How can you bring more self-compassion into your life?
We, humans, tend to strive for perfection. We want to be perfect. Look perfect. Act perfect. We hide our insecurities behind flawless social media images. And we protect ourselves when we don´t feel complete. The truth is we are just HUMANS…and no human is perfect. We fail. We disappoint ourselves. We disappoint people. We judge others – and judge ourselves even harder. So instead of striving for perfection – strive to do things with love.
No one cares about you being perfect….the only thing people care about is how you make them FEEL. Nothing is more attractive than a person who is comfortable in her own skin and who has compassion for others as well as for herself.
Self-compassion makes life very simple. It’s us that complicates things with our expectations. The biggest mistake is thinking that you have to change something before you can love yourself. The truth is that love is the ONLY thing that needs to be changed. You don’t have to get better before you can love yourself. And if you don’t know how to love yourself start with kindness and compassion. Treat yourself as a loving mother would care for a child. Treat yourself as you would treat your best friend.
7. Are your “shoulds” getting in the way of your “wants”?
I delete about half of my emails every day! Why? Because my time is my most valuable asset and I want to be in full control of how I spend it. Now, don´t get me wrong here…I do love all the emails from you, my dear readers, subscribers and students – those emails are always my favourite emails. I´m talking about all the emails offering web service, SEO, unpaid work, collaborations with no rewards, ad requests, guest blogging requests, unpaid speaking gigs and I could keep going…. I don´t want anyone else´s agenda taking over my time! I know so many business owners who answer all emails as fast as they can, just because they feel they “should”. And it´s keeping them from spending time on their most important projects – or even worse it´s keeping them from valuable time with their family.
“Should” is how other people want us to live our lives. It’s all of the expectations and obligations that others lay upon us. But here´s the truth; you don´t have to answer all emails, you don´t have to reply to all Instagram comments, and you don´ have to say yes, to things, jobs or events you don´t wanna do.
If “shoulds” have overpowered you in the past, how can you make a shift and focus on “wants”? These are the things that are super important to you. “Wants” is who you are, what you believe, and what you do when you are alone with your truest, most authentic self. It’s your instincts, your desires, the things, places and ideas you are passionate about.
Every day you are being presented with two choices: evolve or repeat. Will you step away from “shoulds” and evolve or will you keep repeating things you really don´t want to do? How can you reduce “shoulds” and make space for “wants”?
8. What important goal or decision are you procrastinating?
The costs of procrastinating can be enormous. When we procrastinate our goals, we are basically putting off our lives. Think about it; what in your life are you currently procrastinating? Do you delay making an important decision you know you need to make? Do you need to take care of something, but keep postponing it? Look into areas such as happiness, stress, health, finances, relationships and work.
A recent study shows that 47% of people’s time online is spent procrastinating. Social media can be fun and bring loads of good things like new friends and creative inspiration – but potentially social media is also one of our greatest time wasters. How can you help yourself to take action and break free of procrastination? Think about how great you´ll feel on the other side of procrastination.
9. What BIG DREAM do you need to go after?
What big dream are you putting off, because you are waiting for: ⠀⠀ 1. the perfect time? 2. the perfect conditions? 3. more confidence? ⠀⠀ . . Let me just say this; there are people less qualified than you doing the things you want to do, simply because they decided to go for it. So stop waiting. Go after it.
You will be surprised at the things you can accomplish with a little belief and action. There will never be a perfect time anyway, so you might as well just start. And confidence….it will grow as you take action. Confidence comes from taking action – not from waiting.
Forgive yourself for accepting less than you deserve. Re-adjust. Re-start. Re-focus. And then set a step by step plan to reach your goal. You don´t need to have it all figured out before you start something. Sometimes the smallest step in the right direction ends up being the most significant step of your life. Tiptoe if you must, but take the step.
10. How well do you celebrate your life?
On a scale from 1-10, how good are you at celebrating? Unless it´s a big fat 10, you need to start throwing more confetti NOW! Listen, YOU are the only cheerleader you got, so you better show up cheering on yourself and throw a happy dance whenever you get the chance. Life is serious enough, as it is, so spice it up with some fun. Growing up my dad always said to me, life is as fun as YOU make it; meaning YOU are responsible for bringing joy into your life.
Don´t wait for someone to come and entertain you. Don´t wait for people to cheer on you. Don´t do things just to please others. Be pro-active and create small everyday celebrations. You don´t have to buy yourself a fancy new car or eat at the finest restaurant in town to celebrate. It can be little moments of joy that you create to make you happy. Like serving champagne for breakfast on a Monday morning. Enjoying a long warm bath while listening to your favourite podcast or a phone call to a long lost friend. The key is to fill your life with celebration – and not just fill it with chores.
That´s it…now it´s time to….
Perhaps you are on vacation while reading this, enjoying a refreshing GT or a big scoop of chocolate ice cream, laying on the beach or by the pool? If so, there really is NO excuse to not find a moment to yourself, to ponder on the above questions.
Get a notebook, a hotel napkin or use the Notes app on your phone and make sure to answer each question as truthfully as you can. Enjoy the process and remember to do it with kindness. Harsh self-critique will get you nowhere.
Like this article? Share it with your friends or post it to Pinterest – perhaps you´ll help someone get unstuck!
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